Hoxsey Diet Support BBPress Forums

We launched our first bbPress website yesterday. www.HoxseyDietSupport.org is a forum for individuals who are seeking treatment at the Hoxsey Biomedical Center in Tijuana, Mexico and are looking for more information to assist with dietary restrictions.

bbPress has long been on my list of plugins to test for WordPress. I was have always been drawn to the idea of implementing a forum on my favorite CMS and integration using bbPress is practically seamless, compared with other solutions like PHPBB or Vbulletin or possibly one of the other forum plugins available in the WordPress repository.

Although the support for bbPress over the years has ebbed and flowed (like most plugins) at least it is still being supported and testing it on a non-critical site makes the most sense for me at this point.

As of today the site is live and running but we still have many features to add. For starters, we need to customize the dashboard for users. I am not sure why, but our favorite SEO plugin has to put a widget on the dashboard and it shows up for the subscribers and participant roles. It looks like we will have to add some functions to remove this from the page since the users of the forum do not care about SEO. Also on our list is finding a good plugin to allow for forum participants to upload images. We are looking at GD bbPress Attachments right now as it seems that it will allow for other file types and give us the control and security we need.

So far I am really liking working with bbPress. Only time will tell if it will be the effective tool we need to provide the support we are looking for to help disseminate information about the holistic treatment of the Hoxsey Tonic. I will have to see as the forum gains usage.

Visit the Hoxsey Diet Support Forums for more information.

Testing out MainWP

We have been managing multiple WordPress websites for many years now. We have tried different tools over the years and new ones continue to evolve {insert list of tools here}. However we have settled on ManageWP for it was one of the first professional tools to offer a full suite of functions to handle everything needed for maintenance and updates of multiple WordPress installations across various hosting platforms.

I first heard of MainWP at a local WordCamp (I believe they were sponsors at WordCamp Orlando 2015). Today I am going to take their platform for a test run. All of the WordPress management services claim to do everything you need, but some of them do not do it correctly while some do not even work at all. I do recall going through growing pains with ManageWP while they could not get the sync to work correctly with Godaddy servers for a few weeks, but that was several years ago and has been corrected ever since.

So here we go with MainWP.

A few minutes on their website it was evident that the install would be simple and setup very similar to that of ManageWP. Although ManageWP is a hosted solution and MainWP would require us to use our own WordPress installation to host the dashboard plugin.

I created a new WordPress installation on WPengine (my favorite hosting platform) and was up and running in a few minutes with a clean install. I then downloaded the MainWP Dashboard plugin from the WordPress repository and activated it. From there I was guided through some basic settings and prompted to add my first site.

MainWP Plugins
A quick search for MainWP brought up the necessary plugins

To add my first site, I choose a test site that I periodically use as a sandbox. I logged into the dashboard (through ManageWP, as I always have the past several years) and installed the MainWP Child plugin. Once activated, I went back to my Dashboard and added the new site. You are prompted to do this quickly as it does pose a slight security hole if you leave the plugin activated and not connected. But this is the same process as ManageWP and works just fine. Once connected I could see everything that I needed in my dashboard.

Stay tuned for my next post as I go through the MainWP Dashboard…

Getting Started with Heat Maps

So I finally decided to try using heat maps to gain some insights into my clients website conversions (and some of my own).

For those that don’t know, Heat Maps are visual representations of data points on a matrix. In terms of a website these are generally used in mapping movements of a users eye (which is complex and expensive to implement) or more recently movements and clicks of a mouse or scroll of a page. Using an overlay on top of a web page, a heat map can show the “hot spots” where users are actually clicking on the page (whether there is a link there or not). Heat maps are a fantastic tool to assist with conversion rate optimization and can assist in making educated design decisions based on real data.

Heat maps have intrigued me for some time and I have been skeptical of their usefulness. But over the past few years they have become more advanced & easier to use and at the same time, the industry standard, Google Analytics, has become more and more complex.

I have decided to start my trial of crazyegg.com today and setup several sites with a snapshot.

Sign up was a breeze and since I am using WordPress on my websites, I just installed the crazyegg plugin and was up and running in less than 30 minutes with several websites homepage’s being tracked.

Now we just have to wait and see what the data will bring over the next 30 days.

Found a cool plugin to hide the WPengine tab

WPengine.com has become my new favorite host recently and this post by Aaron Vanderzwan pretty much sums up my whole experience with hosting and provides a nice solution to effectively utilize the WPengine staging functionality.

WPEngine lets you easily (with one click) setup a duplicate copy of your current website whenever you need it. It is great for testing themes, plugins and other functionality. I am actually going to setup a staging site for one of my clients this afternoon to install WPML and begin implementing several translations on their site.

Aaron has create a plugin which will avoid another admin user from accidently overwriting your staging site while you are working in it. Aaron writes,Hide WPengine Tab plugin

So I wrote a plugin called Hide WP Engine Tab which hides the WP Engine tab from all users except a select few.  It also has a way to lock the staging environment so that users who attempt to rebuild the staging environment get a notice:

“Staging was locked on 2012-12-18 12:49:20 by admin.
Please contact the web administrator to schedule a time to recreate this environment.”

I will have to try this out. We actually just remove the WPEngine admin bar and quick links completely. It is done by implementing some code in the functions.php file following this aricle: http://support.wpengine.com/how-to-remove-wp-engine-quick-links-from-admin-bar/

Be removing the WPengine quicklinks from all users except our own, we are sure that a client will not accidentally overwrite our staging area. They will never even know it exists since they cannot see the WPengine admin menu. However if you do have multiple developers and admins on the site, that may need to access these functions, Aaron’s plugin may be useful in that you do not have to edit the function.php file every time a new user needs access.

SoFlaWeb.com sitemap created

Well we completed the sitemap last week.

South Florida Web Studio screenshot
Our Drupal website homepage from 2010 – 2013

We wanted to stay somewhat true to what already exists. Due to time constraints we did want to re-invent the wheel so we made some minor changes and it is now off to the designers to work some magic. The new layout will place more emphasis on the blog content (which will be updated more frequently thanks to WordPress) and we will also have a rotating slider which we can use to feature new content and other elements of our website. We are going to stay with the same basic look, probably change the font (I’m thing droid sans at this point). But overall with a dark text on a light background. The site should have a very clean, open and corporate feel to it.